1. The sole question for determination in this petition is whether a person who is engaged in agricultural operations is liable to profession tax under Section 69 of the Kerala Panchayats Act, 1960. It is common ground that he will be liable to taxation under that section only if he can be considered to be a person who 'exercises a profession, art or calling'.
2. The question is important, and the petition has been referred to a Division Bench for decision. The order of reference -- by Nambiyar J. -- reads as follows:
'The question raised in this O. P. is whether the pursuit of agriculture can be said to be the exercise of a profession, art or calling or the transaction of business within the meaning of Section 69(1)(ii)(a) of the Kerala Panchayats Act, 1960. The petitioner's counsel relied on the decision reported in (1966) 1 Mad LJ 84=(AIR 1966 Mad 262) and contended that the pursuit of agriculture will not fall within any of these categories. The learned Government Pleader relied on the connotation to be given to the term 'calling' as expounded in the decision in Krishna Menon v. Commissioner of Income-tax, AIR 1957 Trav-Co 290 and the English decision in Partridge v. Mallandaine, (1886) 18 QBD 276 referred to therein. As the question raised is important and far reaching, I adjourn the hearing of this O. P. to a Division Bench.'
3. According to the learned Government Pleader the pursuit of agriculture is nothing else than the pursuit of a calling and the petitioner is liable to profession tax under Section 69 of the Act We are inclined to agree with him.
4. Agriculture connotes the raising of useful or valuable products which derive nutriment from the soil. Webster calls it, the 'science or art of cultivating the ground'. The employment of human skill and labour is its distinguishing feature, and an agriculturist is he who by himself or by his servants earns his livelihood, wholly or principally, by the pursuit of agriculture. There is no reason to hold that the pursuit of such an avocation is not the pursuit of a calling.
5. In State of Bombay v. Hospital Mazdoor Sabha, AIR 1960 SC 610 the Supreme Court had occasion to deal with the meaning of the word 'calling' in section 2(j) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. The Court said that the word 'calling' is a wordof very wide import and that it means 'one's usual occupation, vocation, business or trade'.
6. In Sankaranarayana Pilial v. Executive Officer, Panchayat Board, Ayikudi, (1966) 1 Mad LJ 84= (AIR 1966 Mad 262) the Madras High Court held that the pursuit of agriculture will not come under Section 121 of the Madras Panchayats Act, 1959, which provides for the levy of a profession tax on every person who 'exercises a profession, art or calling or transacts business or holds any appointment public or private'. The Court said:
'Can it be said that agriculture is a calling? It may be that agriculture is an occupation in a certain sense, but not, in our opinion, a profession or calling. While saying this, we are having in mind the basic sense in which 'agriculture' is used, namely, cultivation of the soil'.
We must say, with respect, that we cannot agree to the conclusion that the pursuit of agriculture is not the exercise of a calling.
7. Item 46 in List II of the Seventh Schedule to the Government of India Act, 1935, and item 60 in List II of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India reads as follows:
'Taxes on professions, trades, callings and employments'.
8. In Waliati Ram v. Rupar Municipality, AIR 1960 Punj 669 the Punjab High Court dealt with those words as follows:
'It is very difficult to hold that the trainers of the Constitution while using the words were using them as terms of art. The object of the entry is to enable the State Legislature to tax persons, who are carrying on any 'professions, trades, callings and employments' The words underscored (here in ' ') above have not any definitive meaning distinct from that of the other. These four words do not seem to be used in a mutually exclusive sense These words overlap one another and appear to have been used by way of abundant caution in order to make these provisions broadbased and comprehensive. None of these words has any particular technical meaning and even if they had any definitive significance, the object of putting them all together is to ensure that no particular category of persons is being eliminated.'
8A. In the light of what is stated abovewe must hold that the petitioner is liable toprofession tax under Section 69 of the Kerala Panchayats Act, 1960, and dismiss this petition.We do so. In the circumstances of the case,however, there will be no order as to costs.